With car thefts up, Airport Heights launches volunteer community patrol program
More than 500 vehicles have been stolen in Anchorage since November, according to data from the Anchorage Police Department.
No neighborhood is immune from the increase in theft, including areas where, before last fall, it wasn’t a significant problem.
“Every week, we’re hearing about another one,” said Airport Heights resident Kalen Saxton.
She said during the past few months, thieves in the neighborhood have gotten bold. Cars have been stolen from driveways while families were eating breakfast inside. Saxton said the spike in stolen cars, alongside an increase in home break-ins, has put the community on edge.
“It just amped up, so we amped up,” she said.
The Airport Heights Community Council is in the first stages of getting its community patrol program off the ground. It’s different from a neighborhood watch program, in which people look out for neighbors by keeping an eye on their property, like taking in newspapers when a family is on vacation. Instead, a group of six people patrol the streets at night. They look out for suspicious activity, and if they see something, they alert APD.
Saxton says while the patrollers cannot intervene, they draw attention to what’s going on “by shining a flashlight or honking horns or doing something to say, ‘hey, people are watching you.’”
As of now, none of the volunteers are paid for their time or gas, but funding could come soon. Even so, Saxton says many people would continue to do it for free.
“I had one dad tell me, ‘You know, it’s worth losing a few hours of sleep in the night if I’ll feel that my wife and children are safe,’” said Saxton.
She said the ideal solution is having more APD officers on the streets. But until that happens, the community will have to step up to keep out crime.
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